A Spokane man who killed a 13-year-old prostitute was sentenced to 26 years in prison Wednesday, concluding a case that drew attention to street children and ultimately led to new state laws.
When John Medlock bludgeoned Rebecca Hedman with a baseball bat two years ago, he also struck a nerve in the public consciousness. Concerns about teen runaways prompted the state Legislature to pass the Becca Bill this year, giving parents more control over their children.
Hedman ran away from her Tacoma home when she was 12 and wound up on Spokane streets, selling her body to support her crack cocaine addiction.
By giving children over 12 the right to make their own decisions, state law restricted her parents’ efforts to bring her home.
Medlock, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder May 18.
“I can live with the sentence he got today,” said Dennis Hedman, the victim’s father. “I still feel empty but I don’t feel depressed anymore. Things are right now.”
Medlock never explained why he cracked Hedman’s skull on Oct. 17, 1993, other than to say that the sex hadn’t been very good. Prosecutors said Medlock wanted his $50 back and the girl refused.
That’s when the normally quiet, law-abiding defendant hit Hedman six times from behind while she pulled on her jeans. Medlock also tried to strangle her, said the doctor who performed her autopsy.
Deputy Prosecutor Steve Kinn asked for an exceptional 40-year sentence, saying the crime was particularly cruel and that Hedman’s age made her vulnerable.
He also said after the murder, Medlock put the girl’s naked body in the bathtub at his motel room and took a nap. Hours later, he wrapped her in a wool blanket and dumped her along the banks of the Spokane River. Then he left town.
“He was not remorseful,” Kinn said.
Defense attorney John Muenster, however, said his client was described repeatedly by police as “quiet, polite, subdued and remorseful” after his arrest. He was also suicidal.
“He has a conscience powerful enough to drive him to suicide,” Muenster said. “And he confessed and cooperated with authorities. If he hadn’t, he never would have been arrested, never would have been charged, never would have been convicted.”
Medlock smiled, leaned forward in his chair and sipped water from a paper cup while the lawyers talked. When Kinn mentioned details of the killing, Medlock looked down and wrote on a legal pad.
His attorney asked for a 20-year sentence, the lowest end of the standard range for first-degree murder. Superior Court Judge James Murphy agreed Medlock showed remorse and noted he had no prior criminal record.
Murphy also acknowledged police had no leads after finding Hedman’s body. If Medlock hadn’t confessed to authorities in Port Moody, British Columbia, the case may not have been solved, he said.
Murphy sentenced Medlock to 320 months in prison, the highest end of the standard range.
“Deliberate cruelty exists whenever someone kills another human being,” Murphy said. “You have to be cruel.”
After the sentencing, Dennis Hedman waved goodbye as Medlock was handcuffed and led from court.
“It is finally feeling like it’s over,” he said.
Muenster said he is planning an appeal.
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